Culture

A Transborder Grad Student Is Using Facebook To Help Others With Their Daily Border Crossings

School has always been a challenge for Vanessa Falcon. Getting to class means navigating her way through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the largest land border crossing in the world. Many other students live this “transborder lifestyle,” having to cross the US-Mexico border daily to go to school and work. With recent hostility at the border, it has drastically impacted their daily lives. That’s why Falcon, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at San Diego State University, started the Facebook group Estudiantes Transfronterizos (Transborder Students). The group helps students navigate border-related challenges including long waits and border closures. Yet for Falcon, this lifestyle began way before college.

Falcon has been living a transborder lifestyle since she was 12 years old.

CREDIT: Credit: Vanessa Falcon

Born in Los Angeles, Falcon was always transitioning from one side of the border to the other. Her mother and father, who are Mexican and Peruvian respectively, frequently moved from San Diego to Tijuana due to economic hardships. They would eventually buy a trailer home, which transported them between their lives in San Diego and Tijuana. Falcon began crossing the border daily in the 6th grade, which she says was a personal decision due to many factors including quality in education and cultural identity.

Falcon recalls dealing with homelessness and early 4 a.m. starts to her day just to make it to school. She recollects long days waiting in her family’s car during school for time to pass and nights when food wasn’t always on the table. Falcon credits those hardships for making her who she is today more than ever and says they represented not only her lifestyle but her cultural identity.

“During 6th grade, I started crossing the border for school on a regular basis and it made living arrangements hard,” Falcon said. “It was challenging but now I draw a lot from that. It was definitely more of a choice than necessity but it became part of who I am today.”

Fast forward to today, Falcon is using those experiences to help others navigate through cross-border challenges.

CREDIT: Credit: Vanessa Falcon

As Falcon pursues her doctoral degrees in the joint Ph.D. in Education Program at SDSU and Claremont Graduate University, she is helping the transborder community in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. Upon starting her studies at SDSU, Falcon felt compelled to help others that were going through similar daily journeys across the border.

In 2015, she began the Facebook group Estudiantes Transfronterizos, which grew into a student group at SDSU called the Transfronterizx Alliance Student Organization (TASO). Officially recognized by SDSU in 2017, the organization focuses on creating an inclusive campus environment for transborder students on campus by connecting them with others who live a similar lifestyle.

“You can meet virtually, and now in person, which has created a small community here at SDSU,” Falcon says. “I wanted to accomplish three things here: Having a place where we can engage, having a safe space where we can discuss our lives and creating a culture where we can discuss these relevant daily challenges.”

Students say their experiences crossing the border every day means enduring intense scrutiny and discriminatory practices from Border Patrol agents. A 2015-2016 study found that young people who’ve lived and studied in two countries from San Diego and Tijuana were at a higher risk for depression than other students.

TASO gives SDSU students who live a transborder life an opportunity to share their experiences, identity, and culture.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

TASO has helped create an inclusive community on the SDSU campus that has gone beyond just a Facebook group but an organization putting together services for transborder students. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the organization hosted a transborder studies lecture series where speakers describe their own experiences as transborder students. The group has also utilized Facebook Live to stream content for transborder students who couldn’t attend in person.

“We’ve had live streams of lectures if a student can’t arrive at campus due to border-related challenges,” Falcon says. “We’re creating a community that was once invisible to many and are getting to share our stories along the way.”

The Facebook group has also given students the opportunity to network among each other when it comes to logistics. Some offer to carpool with other transborder students and post regular updates if there are major stalls crossing the border.

Due to recent closures at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, wait times can extend to several hours long.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

Falcon says recent border closings caused by the Trump administration and the migrant caravan residing in nearby Tijuana have added to already long wait times crossing the San Ysidro Port of Entry. She describes the scene at the border as more militarized with a larger presence of police than in the past.

“There is militarization going on everywhere at the border. Just 3 weeks ago it seemed like we were at a war zone,” Falcon says. “The border has become intense and we see the suffering of refugees at the border and that has resulted in four-hour waits just to enter.”

A letter recently sent out by SDSU’s Dean of Students Randy Timm acknowledged some of the problems students are facing due to the border closures. The letter showed support for transborder students and offered assistance on the campus. Falcon notes this is a step in the right direction in terms of institutions recognizing transborder students.

Falcon is hoping to create a larger community of transborder students that she hopes will help others navigate their daily lives easier.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

Just last year, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) opened up its own TASO chapter on its campus where the group has begun mentorship and educational programs for transborder students. Both chapters hope to work with each other and expand to other universities in border states. Falcon says she could have never imagined the Facebook group growing the way it did. She says there are plans to pilot a transborder students ally training program at SDSU, where she will use research to train students and staff about this lifestyle.

“I want people to understand our experiences and be educated on the daily journeys that we go through,” Falcon said. “I want to teach online through Facebook and make the program accessible to all.”

Falcon says living a transborder lifestyle has given her not just an education but an appreciation of her Latina background and identity. She hopes TASO can encourage legislative changes that improve the lives for transborder students like creating a specific student lane at the U.S border.

“We still live in the margins and our experiences are often not acknowledged,” Falcon says. “We are trying to make a difference on both sides of the border and we are just seeing the potential we have as transborder students to help both sides of our communities.”


READ: Congress Members Camp Out With Asylum Seekers Including Honduran Mother And Children In Viral Tear Gas Photo

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Gloria Estefan Will Be Hosting A Latinx Spinoff Of ‘Red Table Talk’ Alongside Her Daughter And Niece, ’La Flaca’

Entertainment

Gloria Estefan Will Be Hosting A Latinx Spinoff Of ‘Red Table Talk’ Alongside Her Daughter And Niece, ’La Flaca’

gloriaestefan / Instagram

Facebook Watch announced just this week, that they will be creating a spin-off of their original series Red Table Talk —except this time it will feature Latinx musical icon Gloria Estefan. The Miami based show which will feature latinx celebs will be titled; Red Table Talk: The Estefans. Here’s everything we know so far. 

Facebook Watch is turning Red Table Talk into a franchise.

With the green light for a second series from Pinkett Smith and Westbrook Studios, señores y señoras, we’re getting a Latinx spinoff. Set in Miami, Red Table Talk: The Estefans, will feature music icon Gloria Estefan, her daughter and rising musician Emily Estefan and her niece and Daytime Emmy Award-winning TV host Lili Estefan. 

We’ll see all three generations of the Estefans talk about things that matter.

Like the original program, the spinoff will feature the three women of different generations discussing social and personal issues with family, celebrity guests and experts. Pinkett Smith and Gloria Estefan will both serve as executive producers.

“I’m incredibly proud of Red Table Talk, and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili.” 

In a Deadline article Jada Pinkett Smith added, “Red Table Talk has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform. I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”

The new and fresh version will likely help keep “Red Table Talk,” one of the most popular shows on Facebook Watch.

Red Table Talk is available exclusively on the Facebook platform with new episodes of the talker streaming through 2022. 

Pinket Smith’s show was nominated for a 2019 Daytime Emmy.

Red Table Talk debuted in May 2018 and has aired 50 episodes on Facebook Watch over two seasons. The show has over 7 million followers on Facebook and spawned a main discussion group with over 600,000 members as well as other group forums. “Red Table Talk” promises candid conversations of current social and cultural issues including race, divorce, domestic violence, sex, fitness and parenting.

Facebook did not announce an expected premiere date for “Red Table Talk: The Estefans.” 

In a statement, Gloria Estefan said: “I’m incredibly excited to carry the ‘Red Table Talk’ torch with my family in Miami. Jada and I have spoken about this a lot and feel my daughter, niece and I can tackle issues important to us and our fans with a new and fresh voice.”

Gloria Estefan’s journey to becoming one of the biggest Latin American pop stars began in 1959.

In 1959, Gloria’s family fled Cuba for Miami. She met Emilio Estefan in 1975; the two married in 1978, and shortly after that Emilio’s band, the Miami Latin Boys, changed their name to Miami Sound Machine —the biggest crossover act of the 80s and 90s.

Gloria Estefan has had one of the longest and most successful careers of any contemporary pop star.

And she’s done it in two languages, recording numerous Spanish-language albums, such as Mi Tierra (1993), Abriendo Puertas (1995) and Alma Caribeña (2000)all of which won Grammys for Best Tropical Latin Album. In 2015, President Barack Obama presented Gloria and Emilio with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2017, it was announced that Gloria is one of the recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors

We can’t wait to see what the Estefans bring to the (red) table.

Not to disregard the Pinket Smith efforts because they brought much needed discussions to the public with the creation of this show. The original Red Table Talk discussed race, relationships, culture, mental health and more —but we’re excited for the Estefans to discuss issues that affect the Latinx community specifically.

Facebook Watch knows that by giving the show a different angle, they can target another demographic group —and the Latinx community is on board with the representation. 

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be in business with such wonderful partners and are thrilled to expand the Red Table Talk franchise with Jada Pinkett Smith, the Estefans and Westbrook Studios,” said Mina Lefevre, head of development & programming for Facebook Watch. “Red Table Talk is a shining example of how content, community and conversation come together on Facebook Watch. We’re proud to keep this conversation going around topics our fans care about.”

Couple Livestream High-Speed Chase After Trying To Smuggle Group Of Undocumented Men

Things That Matter

Couple Livestream High-Speed Chase After Trying To Smuggle Group Of Undocumented Men

CAMERA PHOBIA / YouTube

There are organizations throughout the country that serve the undocumented community. In fact, there are some organizations based around the border that are there specifically to help undocumented people as they make their way across the tough terrain. Those groups such as No More Deaths assist by making the journey not as painful or draining by leaving food and water. They certainly don’t drive them across the border. That kind of job is typically done by coyotes — people who get paid to smuggle undocumented people across the border. All of these people are in danger of getting arrested and have been arrested for doing this kind of work. This latest story, however, is unlike anything we have ever seen. 

Last week, in Laredo, Texas, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested two people after they led police on a high-speed chase while they were transporting a group of undocumented men — and they documented the whole thing via Facebook Live.

Credit: CAMERA PHOBIA / YouTube

Alejandro Vela, 22, and Karyme Espinoza, 19, from Texas, captured their high-speed chase on Facebook Live as they drove trying to evade police while driving with a group of undocumented men in the back of their 2010 Mercedes Benz. 

Vela was driving the car and Espinoza was recording on Facebook Live. She didn’t look stressed about the situation and actually didn’t seem bothered at all that the police were chasing them. In fact, she seemed to be happy about it.

Credit: CAMERA PHOBIA / YouTube

“Hey, I’m live on Facebook,” Espinoza said jokingly. “I need you to do me a favor without telling anybody,” she said. “Immigration is on my ass because I have ten guys with me.” She added “we are currently going 160 (mph),” she said. The male is then heard talking to someone on the phone. He tells them if they can open the gate and then close it behind them so they “lose them.” 

According to the New York Post, when the CBP eventually caught up with them the driver and passenger fled by foot again. They were caught in the end and arrested. 

Credit: @aintnobarbie / Twitter

The News & Observer report that Vela (the driver) was charged with “evading arrest, unlawful transport of a person and reckless driving.” The female (the passenger) “was charged with unlawful transport of a person and evading arrest on foot.”

 “This is one of the first times I do see one of the persons actually engaged in the crime actually live-streaming it,”  Texas Department of Public Safety’s Sergeant Eric Estrada said in an interview with KGNS News. “We would never think that someone would want to incriminate themselves by live-streaming the crime they are actually committing.”

Here’s the entire 10-minute video, but you may need a barf bag because you will get dizzy.

This almost looks as if it could be the plot of the movie. But we can’t help but feel bad for the undocumented people in their car. Crossing the border illegally is always a risk, but entrusting people who are willfully behaving erratically. 

This week as well, another couple was arrested for smuggling undocumented people in San Diego. That couple also led the CBP in a high-speed chase.

Credit: Unsplash

In this case, the 30-year-old driver and his 34-year-old female front passenger attempted to smuggle a large group of undocumented people and also had some in the trunk. 

According to the CBP, they suspected the couple had undocumented people in their car after they saw several people going into their car and then headed westbound towards Chula Vista. 

The CBP report that “agents turned on their emergency lights and siren to initiate a vehicle stop. The driver refused to stop and fled at a high rate of speed into a neighborhood near Proctor Valley Road.”

CBP verified they were going extremely fast. “Before agents could approach the vehicle, the driver sped off to State Highway 125, at times going in excess of 100 miles per hour,” they reported. “He continued northbound, exited, then drove westbound on Jamacha Road. The driver continued to drive erratically and, at one point, tried to run an agent’s vehicle off the road. The chase came to an end at Darby Street in Spring Valley, when the driver crashed into a parked car.”

“This is another example of the dangerous acts human smugglers perform every day for financial gain and how they show no regard for the lives of those involved,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas E. Harrison said in a press release. “Fortunately, this chase came to a safe conclusion and ended with the driver and co-principal in custody.”

READ: A City Claims A Family Can’t Sue Over A Wrongful Death Because Undocumented People Don’t Have Rights Under Constitution